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Friday Favorite: Handbrake bridges the gap between DVDs and my iPad

Fact: It is often ridiculously cheaper to buy physical DVDs off Amazon than to purchase the same material in an existing digital format from your vendor of choice, like iTunes. Case in point, a friend of mine and I recently started watching Conviction, a one-season series that broadcast a few years ago.

Shipped via Amazon Prime (unfortunately not Amazon Prime Air), the three-disc set cost all of US$3-7 depending on which day you shopped for it. Amazon prices jump around a lot day by day. The same series would have cost $20 at iTunes. Ripping DVDs does take extra time -- both for shipping the product as well as performing the rips, but the results are satisfying. One of our TUAW staffers adds, "I always get a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. I rip the DVD and keep the Blu-ray for when I care about the quality of picture."

Enter Handbrake, our Friday Favorite of the week. From disc, it takes just a few steps in Handbrake (donationware see this, thanks evcjackson) to transform episodes to iPad-ready formats.

You start by scanning the contents of a DVD, a process which takes a few minutes, and can sometimes be the most frustrating part of the sequence. Once scanned, you select which episodes you wish to rip (typically the items that are 40-odd minutes long), and add them to a processing queue. Click Start and let Handbrake do its work.

Handbrake's presets simplify the process of converting files, ensuring that the ripped files are perfect for iPad viewing, as an example. Built-in presets also include iPhone and Apple TV.

Handbrake will never win awards for interface beauty or simple GUIs. If you're willing to work with the presets on offer, however, and have the patience to Google up some basic how-to instructions, Handbrake provides a terrific solution for quick, easy, effective DVD rips.

It's a reliable, time-proved tool with great utility, which is why we made it today's Friday Favorite.

Got a favorite app of your own? Suggest it in the comments. Maybe we'll cover it in an upcoming Friday Favorite column.

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